TN Tenth Judicial District Judge Primary Results Expected Soon


by Sharon Rondeau

McMinn County, TN primary results will be announced this evening or Wednesday morning

(May 6, 2014) — Primary voting for several political contests in the Tenth Judicial District of Tennessee closed at 8:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, and results have begun to be announced as of 8:55 p.m.

Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III is an eyewitness to a gathering of what he estimates to be between 200 and 300 people eagerly awaiting the announcement of the returns.

The gathering is taking place at the McMinn County Courthouse Annex.  “It’s like a circus,” Fitzpatrick said.  “It’s a festive group right now.”  As of 8:45, Fitzpatrick said that it was not yet dark and that the temperature was between 75 and 78 degrees outdoors with a light breeze.  Free food was available to attendees, paid for either by the candidates or their political parties.

Fitzpatrick reported seeing former McMinn County grand jury foreman Jeffrey Cunningham, who accused him of stalking, harassment, aggravated perjury and extortion.  On March 18, without any evidence, the grand jury issued indictments and Fitzpatrick was arrested and jailed for ten days until making bond.

The area outside the annex contains tents and signs for the candidates, and supporters sported T-shirts for the candidates of their choice.  Lawn chairs are clustered around a total of seven tents and an RV.  “It’s a block party times 15,” Fitzpatrick said.

The positions of Athens, TN mayor, McMinn County sheriff, public defender and criminal court judge are among those whose primary results will be announced either this evening or on Wednesday. Some, such as current public defender Richard Hughes, are running unopposed, in which case today’s election will be final.

The present criminal court judge is Amy Armstrong Reedy, who Fitzpatrick reported observing hand-picking grand jury members in open court on December 7, 2011.  While Reedy is not involved in a primary, two Republican contenders for the position will discover which one of them will face Reedy in the general election at the beginning of August.

One of those running for the judgeship is Deputy District Attorney Sandra Donaghy, who responded to two emails from The Post & Email regarding the corruption it has uncovered in the Tenth Judicial District over the last four years.  Reedy also responded twice to email inquiries from us, although she did not directly address our concerns about her selection of the grand jury foreman by an unknown vetting process and his or her placement into the grand jury as if he were a juror as described by Tennessee code.  State law requires that all jurors, grand or trial, be selected by “automated means” so as to avoid the possibility of “human intervention.”

The second Republican seeking to be the next criminal court judge is Atty. Van Irion, who is defending Fitzpatrick against the charges leveled by the grand jury in March and in another case which asked an appeals court to decide whether or not a grand jury foreman serving consecutive terms is legally-installed.

However, the appeals court avoided the issue after the Tennessee attorney general submitted its brief in the case, stating that the foreman has never been considered a juror and “is not a juror” in an apparent justification of the hand-picking of foremen by criminal court judges and not by automated means.

The Post & Email will report on the election returns as soon as they are announced.

At 9:45 p.m. EDT, Fitzpatrick reported that “people are starting to fold up their chairs” and that preliminary results were announced in all the races.  Incumbent Sheriff Joe Guy won by approximately 67% over contender Tim Smith, who garnered approximately 33% of the vote.

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